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Andrew Harnik / AP

The "debate" was mostly a charade. A source who spends a lot of time with President Trump has never heard him say a positive thing about the Paris climate accord.

Ivanka Trump was optimistic to the end that she could change her father's mind.

But in retrospect, it turns out that the notion he was going to stay in the deal was always fanciful.

  • The bottom line, from Axios' Jonathan Swan: The speech Trump gave in the Rose Garden was the most full-throated expression of populist nationalism we've seen since his inauguration. This was campaign Trump, and he looked like he was loving it in the Rose Garden, with his supporters cheering his applause lines and a jazz band warming up the crowd in the sun.

Behind the scenes, from my conversations and Swan's notebook:

  • What Trump was thinking: "This is religion for the political left, and our supporters are constantly being asked to change their behavior," a top West Wing aide told me, adding that the "snarky comments" from European leaders didn't help. The aide said Trump resented the corporate critics who "ride in fossil-fuel-guzzling planes and SUVs, then act holier-than-thou."
  • The supporters: In the president's inner circle, key advocates for withdrawal included Vice President Pence; chief strategist Steve Bannon; senior adviser Kellyanne Conway; White House Counsel Don McGahn; Stephen Miller, his top speechwriter; EPA administrator Scott Pruitt; and Marc Short, his congressional liaison.
  • The withdrawal is a huge disappointment for Ivanka, who pressed hard for her father to stay in the deal. Economic adviser Gary Cohn and SecState Rex Tillerson supported her.
  • The non-profit Competitive Enterprise Institute played a big role in rallying outside conservative groups. An administration source says CEI was "the energy" and "enabled the issue to stay high profile in the White House for months." CEI marshaled a coalition letter of influential outside groups, and helped generate the letter from the 22 Republican senators — including Mitch McConnell — that gave Trump crucial ammo.
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Go deeper

Trump threatens to veto Defense spending bill over social media shield

Photo: Erin Schaff - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Tuesday a threat to veto a must-pass end-of-year $740 billion bill defense-spending authorization bill unless Congress repeals a federal law that protects social media sites from legal liability.

Why it matters: Trump's attempt to get Congress to end the tech industry protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the latest escalation in his war on tech giants over what he and some other Republicans perceive as bias against conservatives.

The walls close in on Trump

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

With Bill Barr's "Et tu, Brute!" interview with AP, President Trump is watching the walls close in on his claims of fraud, hoaxes and conspiracies.

Why it matters: Trump and his legal team continue to claim election fraud. But the Republican governors of Arizona and Georgia have certified their elections, a loyalist like Barr has weighed in, and lower-ranking officials have taken potshots.

Congress plots COVID pandemic-era office upgrades

oving crates outside Rep. Elise Stefanik's old office Tuesday. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The House plans to renovate members' suites even though staff are worried about an influx of contractors and D.C. is tightening restrictions on large gatherings, some staffers told Axios.

Why it matters: The Capitol has been closed to public tours since March. Work over the holiday season comes as U.S. coronavirus cases spike, Americans beg for more pandemic assistance and food lines grow.